September 16, 2012

School officials investigated ex-Fossil Ridge band director after complaints of bullying

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A former Fossil Ridge High School band director was investigated by school officials on complaints of bullying among band members and complaints that he bullied students, according to e-mails obtained by the Star-Telegram on Sunday.

Mike Sisco stepped down Friday as band director and was reassigned as assistant band director at Central High School in the Keller school district, according to a letter sent to band parents Friday by Fossil Ridge Principal David Hadley.

The letter stated that Sisco, who had been band director since 2006, was being moved because of "some personal matters," but no other details were released.

School officials could not be reached Sunday to respond to the allegations. Sisco did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Band parent Chris Wetzel of Fort Worth has said that Sisco was moved because of how he handled physical and verbal bullying by a section leader against other band members. Wetzel also said, "He intimidated my son behind closed doors for going to the administration" to report the bullying. The parent said he also has a daughter in band.

Wetzel said he first complained to Sisco in August about the student leader bullying his son and daughter. Sisco handled the problem, and an anti-bullying lecture was given to all band members Aug. 24, he said.

One section leader was placed on "leadership" probation, and he apologized to Wetzel's son and daughter, Wetzel said in a letter to the school district.

But the problem persisted, the parent said.

E-mails sent by Hadley, Keller Superintendent Randy Reid and Director of Fine Arts Kim Bland to Wetzel indicated that the bullying incidents involving band members were being investigated as well as Sisco's actions. The e-mails were exchanged from Aug. 29 to Sept. 6.

In an Aug. 29 e-mail, Hadley told Wetzel: "We do not tolerate bullies. I have asked Mike Kreis, assistant principal in charge of working with the band, to investigate these incidents fully."

That was the day Sisco intimidated his son for going to the administration, Wetzel said. He called it bullying.

Hadley told Wetzel in an Aug. 30 e-mail: "I want to give Mr. Sisco an opportunity to tell his version of what took place yesterday in his office. I assure you that I will interview all of the parties involved to get an accurate picture of the incident that occurred yesterday. My first and most important duty as the principal of Fossil Ridge High School is to insure the safety and security of our students."

Bland, the fine arts director, also sent an e-mail to Wetzel on Aug. 30 saying, "We have begun looking into the matter."

Wetzel received an e-mail from Superintendent Reid on Aug. 31, part of which said: "I am of the understanding that our school leadership division is already investigating your concerns. I assure you that the things you have described are not condoned by the administration, and the matter will be thoroughly reviewed."

In a letter to Reid, Wetzel said that Sisco picked on band students in front of other students, told some students to stop "running away from their problems and deal with it," and chastised other students for missing band practice because of doctor appointments or work.

The investigation continued for several days as Hadley interviewed students and parents -- borne out by a Sept. 4 e-mail from Hadley to Wetzel. Hadley noted to Wetzel that he completed interviews with parents Sept. 6. Also that day, Bland told the band parent in an e-mail that school officials had talked to several parents and students. The e-mail said, "This situation has been handled with the utmost care and concern, giving it the importance it deserves."

Sisco stepped down Friday. Central High School assistant band director Brad Allen was named band director at Fossil Ridge.

But Sisco's departure didn't satisfy Wetzel.

"He's just moved to another school," Wetzel said. "He'll still be in contact with students."

Domingo Ramirez Jr.,


Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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